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One fish, two fish

Published (1/30/2009)
By Sue Hegarty
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Debate about whether two fishing lines are better than one on Minnesota lakes and streams drew both support and opposition during Jan. 26 testimony.

If enacted, HF22 would allow anglers to use two lines to fish year-round.

Minnesota law currently only allows two lines per person when ice fishing. Rep. Al Juhnke (DFL-Willmar), who sponsors the bill, presented supportive arguments to the House Game, Fish and Forestry Division, which took no action. There is no Senate companion.

From a competitive viewpoint, bordering states allow anglers to use more than one line, which may cause tourism dollars from boaters, campers and serious fishermen to be diverted to those locales, Juhnke said. Plus, potential revenue from the purchase of a two-line stamp could number in the millions, he added.

But some anglers are not as excited to drop another line in the water. Rather, they argue that two lines will deplete some lakes of fish and put an undue burden on the state’s fisheries. “We need to maintain the quality of our fishery. Is $1 million enough to restock our lakes?” asked John Underhill, co-chair of the Minnesota Muskie Alliance. When walleye numbers dropped in Leech Lake, “people stopped coming,” Underhill said.

Studies from bordering states indicate that up to 50 percent more fish are caught when two lines are used rather than one, according to Ed Boggess, deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Department of Natural Resources.

There are emergency measures the DNR can take to solve this problem, Boggess said. Action can be taken to close the lake, reduce the number of lines temporarily, lower limits of fish taken and other conservation solutions.

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